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Udinese 0, Milan 0: A Draw is a Win-Win

After lifting the trophy last week, I was curious to see how Milan would play this week. Certainly they didn’t go in for the kill, resting Abbiati, Gattuso, Ibrahimovic, Inzaghi, and Pirlo, amongst others. But Allegri did field a decent lineup, and it seemed to me that they played to win, hushing rumors of a deal with Udinese to insure them the Champions League. Still, a draw against the this team was comparable to a win, and was in no away disgraceful to the League Champions. For Udinese, a draw or better was a win, as they achieved Champions League qualification for next year. So in a strange way, the draw was a win-win.
 


After playing the game of the season with 8 amazing goals the last time these two teams met, it was hard not to drool just a little at the prospect of another edge-of-your-seat game. But it seems that both teams played a lot more defensively, at least for the first 70 minutes or so, which left me about halfway to the edge of my seat, quite honestly. Milan managed their usual 64% possession, but the 0-0 scoreline didn’t tell the whole story.

Milan came out a little stronger offensively in the first half, starting with Seedorf’s 11th minute salute to the sky above the curva. Pato had a nice shot that was saved by Handanovic in the 32nd, followed by a nice shot just wide in the 39th by Cassano. And in the 63rd minute, Cassano offered a beautiful pass to Boateng that should have been a goal, but our own Prince of Pop couldn’t quite manage. Just a few of our could-have-beens that were not to be today.

Milan also had some sloppy defense (translate: fouls), with a yellow for Flamini in the 13th minute for a classic studs up 2-footed tackle that Tagliavento was so used to seeing, he forgot to grab the red. Boateng also got a yellow in the 18th for a far less egregious foul, but today’s king of stupid fouls was reserved for Seedorf. First he gave up a ridiculous penalty in the 73rd, then draws a yellow in the 91st minute of a meaningless game. If it weren’t the last game of the season, I might have some more choice words for the senator, but as it is I will say that if on Tuesday he goes to Galliani and decides he is moving on, these fouls are a ridiculous way to say goodbye after so many terrific years with the club.

Udinese had some great shots throughout, 15 shots with 5 on goal, to be exact, but it was around the 70th minute that they really started to pick it up. The catalyst seemed to be Pato falling very awkwardly over another player and dislocating his shoulder. (Hope you get better soon, Ducky!) After that, for some reason, the fireworks started. When Seedorf gave up that stupid penalty, Di Natale stepped up to take it and Amelia came up with the huge save. Whether it was that he was sworn to protect the No Fly Zone or that he was doing his best Abbiati impression, he went ballistic with the super saves from there on out until he was subbed out for Roma in the 86th. Either way, Di Natale, the league’s Capo Cannoniere (literally translated “top gunner” or top scorer) for the 2nd year running now, was frustrated by a 2nd string keeper with his sights on 1st team play next year at a decent club. And I think Amelia's audition will be well received. (I assume Galliani already has messages after that performance!)


Same team? (future??)

   
Asamoah also had a nice trial against a club who is actively seeking his services for next year, let’s hope that Galliani was taking notes. Armero seemed to catch me by surprise, too, but in fact Udinese have a very strong squad, nothing should have surprised me. Although on the Milan side, Allegri’s inclusion of Didac Vila did surprise me, even if his performance did not as much. After all, he is 21 years old, he was a bit like a deer in the headlights, even if he was a definite improvement on Bonera. (But then again an actual deer in the headlights would be an improvement, so I guess that’s not saying too much.)

Speaking of Bonera, it seemed that once again management pulled a Bonera by not offering players who were potentially leaving a chance to say goodbye to the fans. Pirlo was left out of the lineup, and while I understand the risks of injuring a player who would no longer belong to Milan very shortly, it was really hard to watch him sitting in the stands, not wearing the red and black for his final match with the club. And even if his teammates lifted him up at the end and he came out on the pitch to say goodbye to the traveling fans, I felt it was a slap-in-the-face send off to someone who won 2 Scudetti, 2 Champions League trophies, a Coppa Italia and a Super Coppa, 2 UEFA Super Cups, and a FIFA Club World Cup trophy for your club (in addition to being a World Cup winner.) He was a brilliant player for the club for 10 years, completely irreplaceable. I am so very sad to see him go like this. But if it’s any consolation, I have cried my eyes out since the end of the game for him (hence any spelling errors, please forgive!) Grazie, Andrea, you will be sorely missed. I can only hope you will be treated as you deserve with your next club. (cough*Juventus*cough)

Campione nel mio cuore
Early on in the broadcast, the commentator I was listening to reacted to our first miss by saying “Had Milan needed to score, I’m sure they would have.” Clearly, he hasn’t watched a lot of Milan games this year. Although, that is just from a fan’s perspective, of course, having stopped breathing for large quantities of time during many matches where we needed goals may have affected my judgment/brain function. After all, we DID do what we needed to do in the long run, and we are league champions. And Udinese DID achieve their goal for Champions League qualification, so it truly was a Win-Win. A fitting way to end the season.


This post brought to you by the musical inspiration of Elaine’s “Milan Mix” and also a LOT of Kleenex